Barcelona have stalled in their hunt to acquire the signature of Juan Cuadrado, revealed by the player's agent, leaving Manchester United with a window of opportunity to make a swoop of their own.
Alessandro Lucci, Cuadrado's representative, told Tuttomercatoweb (h/t Daily Mail's David Kent) that Barcelona have not firmed up their interest since initial contact: "I’ve been in direct contact with Barcelona and with other clubs. They showed interest but now there are no negotiations in place, not with Barcelona or any other clubs."
Lucci went on to respond to speculation that Barca were encouraging Cuadrado to strike in order to force through a move, saying: "The Catalan club are represented by serious, professional people who have never expressed that they would like to use such strategies."
Is Cuadrado worthy of a £39.5 million price tag?
La Viola purchased the remaining rights to Cuadrado's contract earlier this summer, and it's possible that Luis Enrique's side baulked at Fiorentina's £39.5 million valuation of their Colombian maestro.
Depending on how eager United are to make the winger one of their own, they may be more willing to part with the substantial fee in order to finance what would be a new club-record signing.
Dermot Corrigan notes a recent quote from Barcelona vice president Javier Faus, per Spanish newspaper SPORT:
Barca VP Faus asked bout Fiorentina's€50m asking price for Cuadrado. "We couldnt put the club's sustainability at risk." [via @sport ]— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) July 29, 2014
Having already splurged £75 million on Luis Suarez's signature and £16 million on Jeremy Mathieu this summer, La Blaugrana may not have the cash necessary to lure another major signing, with other areas of the squad also in greater need of reinforcement.
However, United are actively looking to bolster Louis van Gaal's options and could free up more funds with the sale of long-time fringe star Javier Hernandez, a wanted man in Italy and Spain, according to recent developments.
In Serie A, it's alleged that Inter are interested in offering the Mexican international a route out of Old Trafford, per Enrico Passarella of GianlucaDiMarzio.com.
Hernandez made a brief appearance against the Italian titans earlier this week in the International Champions Cup, after which beIN Sports quoted former team-mate Nemanja Vidic, now at the San Siro, in urging Hernandez to follow him to Milan:
Meanwhile, the Press Association (h/t The Guardian) claims Atletico Madrid are also interested, and when asked about what's to come while on the club's tour of the United States, Hernandez replied: "The future, only God knows."
Atleti manager Diego Simeone is far more assertive in his desire to see the player line up at the Vicente Calderon, however, as he looks to make further moves in softening the blow of Diego Costa's exit for Chelsea:
He’s a vertical player, he’s great in one-on-one situations and he’s someone who could be useful to any team. We are speaking to the sporting directors about the type of player we want and then it’s up to them to bring the player in. With Javier Hernandez and lots of other great players, anything is possible. We can’t close any door until the transfer window shuts.
Simeone's notes leave no sentiment of mystery regarding his admiration of Hernandez, a player he clearly feels would be a good fit in the Spanish capital.
However, as has been the case for much of the forward's career, it's a case of whether Van Gaal feels he can afford to sell the player, who is unfortunate to be competing with such a raft of attacking talent in Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
It has been a long time in the offing, but Van Gaal's arrival will either push Hernandez out of the Old Trafford exit door or give him a renewed lease of life as a United player.